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Oklahoma sues EPA over regional haze plan

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the agency's rejection of a state plan to address regional haze.
BY JAY F. MARKS jmarks@opubco.com Published: June 1, 2011
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Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt drew a line in the sand Tuesday, filing a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over its rejection of a state plan to address emissions from aging coal plants.

Pruitt claims the federal agency violated its own rules when it refused to accept Oklahoma's plan to reduce regional haze in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

“According to the Clean Air Act, it is the responsibility of the state to create a plan to improve visibility and reduce regional haze in wildlife areas, and we are intent on preserving that right,” Pruitt said. “By ignoring Oklahoma's plan, the EPA not only usurped the right of Oklahoma to set its own energy policy, but violated the process required by the Regional Haze Rule.”

Gov. Mary Fallin and other state leaders commended Pruitt for filing the lawsuit in federal court in Oklahoma City.

Fallin applauded Pruitt for standing up to overreaching federal officials, but the Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club again voiced its support for the EPA plan.

“Coal-fired power plants are polluting the air that Oklahomans breathe and putting our health at risk,” Chairman Charles Wesner said. “In fact, pollution from coal helps to cause lung cancer, asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses and adds $62 billion per year in health costs.

“It is time for these outdated energy sources to clean up or phase out.”

The lawsuit contends EPA failed to act within its two-year window, which expired Jan. 15, to approve Oklahoma's plan or enforce its own. EPA rejected the state plan March 22.

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